Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
September 23, 2016
Photos By: Courtesy Carlisle Events

Car owners and car lovers know the value of Carlisle Events and the international spotlight that shines on some of the largest automotive events in the world. Why else would car owners and car lovers come from as far away as New Zealand to experience a show at Carlisle, Pennsylvania? Many firsts happen at Carlisle and the tradition continues in 2017 as the Carlisle Ford Nationals (June 2-4) proudly announce that the first-ever Mercury Cougar produced is coming to the event. In doing so, Cougar #1 will support the specially planned 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Cougar. What better way to anchor a celebration than the car that started it all! Yes, Mustang 360 is about Mustangs, not Cougars, but the cars are similar enough that this should interest most Mustang enthusiasts.

Found near Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada in 1994 in a quonset hut (so it’s kind of a Barn Find), Cougar #1 has roots dating back to 1966. It was in March of that year that Ford Motor Company put in a deep water shipping facility on the Bay of Fundy. Lee Iacocca and other Ford executives were present for the dedication as were local dealers, including Dryden Motors; the oldest Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealer in Canada. Dryden sent their dealer principal to the event and in turn, was able to communicate with Iacocca and convince him to place Mercury Cougars at his dealership in a time frame that was faster than normal, given his position on Ford’s fulfillment list. Iacocca’s first move was to place a factory show car in the Dryden Motors’ showroom—Cougar #1. The show car could not be sold however, because it did not include the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin. Instead, the car was leased to a local car wash, where it sat for 35 months.

At the end of the nearly three-year lease, the car returned to the dealership. In 1979. the dealer principal died, the dealership lost the personal service contract with Lincoln/Mercury, and it filed for bankruptcy. The car was ultimately auctioned and awarded to a local hardware dealer named Dale Garland. Garland drove the car for a few years, but in 1982 decided to sell it via Cars & Parts Magazine. While there was some interest, no one ever came to see the car and it never sold. Fast forward to 1994 and that’s where Mark Ogden, a member of the Cougar Club, comes into play. Mark was at a swap meet and happened upon the old issue of Cars & Parts. He contacted Garland and, against odds, he still had the car stored in the aforementioned quonset hut. Ogden takes this info to his next Cougar Club meeting and runs into current Cougar #1 owner Jim Pinkerton’s wife. While Jim wasn’t there, his wife connected he and Ogden and after some wheeling and dealing, the sale was made for the car with Garland.

At the 2017 Carlisle Ford Nationals, this piece of history and its story will be on full display. Experience 50 years of the Cougar, be in the presence of Cougar #1, and meet Mr. Pinkerton as well. Complete details on event weekend as well as an outlet to register any and all Cougars can be found online at www.CarlisleEvents.com or by calling 717-243-7855. Don’t miss out as history once again comes to life in Building T at Carlisle in 2017!